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July 2013

On photography, hair, and inspiration.

Oh you guys, I just wrote a million-word post on hair. HAIR. And what does it say about me that I can post million-word posts on anxiety and personality tests and churchy stuff, but cannot bring myself to publish the post that uses the word "inspired" about hair? 

So I'm going to tell you about my photography consult instead, and maybe I will meander around to the word "inspired" because really, these were similar experiences. In my head. JUST GO WITH IT. 

Last week? Two weeks ago? (WHO KNOWS? I am losing track of EVERYTHING.) I went for my photography consult (consult!) with the absolutely adorable Lindsay Kennedy. And I am not just calling her adorable because she is taking pictures of my family for free. Lindsay's short haircut? Pretty darn perfect if you ask me. (Go check out her website. She's in there somewhere, amongst all the other pretty people. Do you think she'll make me look pretty too?!) 

Lindsay lives in this pretty fabulous downtown apartment, like, DOWNTOWN downtown, and here I am, dragging my baby into this fabulous apartment lobby and it's super hot and I'm super sweaty and Emma's kind of had it with me and WHATEVER. PICTURES. DOING IT. 

We have done kid portraits at good ole JC Penney (I actually like those, so hush) and one time Phillip's dad got us a Groupon for Yuen Lui (is that just a local place?) and another time I bought a Groupon for a local photographer who took pictures of my kids in a park. That's about it for pictures. I've been pretty bad about portraits for Emma and, as you know, there's next to nothing of Phillip and me. No engagement pictures, hate our wedding pictures, one or two family studio portraits, that's it. Sad sad sad. 

Except, I kind of hate having my picture taken. I'm just extremely aware of my un-photogenic-ness, like, NEGATIVE amounts of photogenic, and why bother? Also, in my head I look like a Disney princess and when I see my actual likeness in a picture I'm rudely awakened. I hate being rudely awakened. 

But I should get over this, yes? And am I going to say no to an absolutely adorable local photographer offering to take pictures of my family? AWESOME pictures? (Have you looked at her website? My favorites are the mom and daughter at the library. SO SWEET.) 

AAAAANYWAY, all this to say, I felt silly having a consult about pictures. The same way I feel silly writing about my hair. What difference will it make? So poor Lindsay is asking me all these questions: what does your family like to do together? What makes your family special? What kind of memory do you want to preserve? When you look at your pictures on the wall how do you want to feel? And I'm all, "Uhhhh, we like to... eat?" 

But for Lindsay, clearly, expression through photography is REAL. A THING. It's beautiful and forever and it says something about you and your life and your world. And you know what? It was inspiring. The prints hanging in her living room, the crazy amount of care and time and precision in the materials I took home, the exquisite photo albums she creates... I just, it was super inspiring getting to participate in someone else's art. Someone else's GIFT. Really. That's what I felt like when I left. Well, that and some mortification over the fact that EJ dropped bits of cookie all over this nice lady's child-free apartment. GAH.

I left feeling like, "Okay! Maybe I won't feel like a total dork! Maybe I'll just hang out with the kids and this adorable little person will flit around in the background taking pictures of us and I just won't even notice!" And then, when it's over, I'll have something really beautiful for my home. Because that's what Lindsay was really concentrating on during the consult - not just the pictures, but the creation of something meaningful to hang in your space. 

(And you guys know I have a lot of wall space.)

We're just going to do it at our house. We could go anywhere, but I chose our house with the brown carpet with the hole and the 1980s kitchen cabinets and the baskets of toys in every corner. Going somewhere else felt like acting. One of her questions was something like "what's the most important thing about your photos?" and "magazine quality" was one of the potential answers. And yeah, I would certainly not complain if Lindsay's magic produced magazine quality images, but mostly I wanted our pictures to be real. Playing with the kids. Making cookies. Shooting down the new slide. Watering the plants. Cutting and pasting and coloring. (All right, let's be honest: watching television.) 

I don't know. I've been spending inordinate amounts of time thinking about how things LOOK lately. The kitchen, Emma's room, fitting into my clothes, whether or not I'm growing out my hair, getting a nose ring. I think Phillip wonders what is up with me. Is this my midlife crisis? What is this talk about dying my hair BLOND? Am I for SERIOUS? 

But... I am. I think. Maybe it is a "gee, I'm getting older, let's switch things up!" or "let's do the things I didn't do when I was 20!" Maybe it is just boredom. But I think there could also be a piece of missing inspiration in there too. I want to be inspired by my space, I want to make art, and when I look the way I feel it's right somehow. I don't know if that makes sense. I was going to grow out my hair, but you know, I feel more like me when it's short. I don't know what that means either, but it's the reason I went to get it cut this weekend. And after a loooong conversation about going blond with my stylist and she said, "I think you'll be INSPIRED by it" I totally knew what she meant. I want to be me. I want to be inspired. I think I can do both of those things without feeling like a dork. MAYBE.


Someone's in a big girl bed! Also: job update. Because you were on tenterhooks I'm sure.

We're not surprised I bought Emma a toddler bed today, are we? Of course not This is EXACTLY the kind of dumb thing I do that drives my husband crazy. Case in point: I just put the toddler to bed and she is SUPER PISSED that she no longer has bars with which to prop up her feet. She kept holding her leg out to me and grunting indignantly. "Where are my bars, woman?!" 

I bought Emma a toddler bed not because she needed or wanted or was ready to leave her crib behind, no, I bought the bed because I wanted a WHITE bed, a key element for the Redecorating Of Emma's Room. With which I have thrown myself with GUSTO. Up next: wall paint, curtains, PAINTING A DRESSER. Oh yes. This is what happens when I have to put my unused Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations kit in my garage. 

Yeah, I'm ridiculing my own self right now. It was fun to take pictures of her in it, but I'm not so sure about the SLEEPING in it. She's become a half decent sleeper, even if she does wake up almost every night and thump her head/kick her feet/moan herself back to sleep. At least *I* don't have to do it, right? Why am I messing with that? I WAS NOT THINKING!

Okay, here's what I was thinking:

  • Emma is too big for the pack 'n play so when she stays overnight with Grandma she's going to start sleeping in a toddler bed
  • My sister needs a crib
  • Our crib is the wrong color for my Grand Scheme
  • Even though it's basically the same size, I have a few more furniture arrangement options if I move her out of the crib
  • I thought she was too little still for a twin bed

The end. Not QUITE enough evidence for moving her you say? I guess we'll find out. I've been anti-toddler bed, even. Why do people want to move babies out of cribs! Keep'em in there until they're five! Go right to a twin! Toddler beds are silly!

And yet, here I am. I suppose I could have just painted the crib white. Nahhhh

Today was a blissfully dull one (until Jack contracted some mysterious YMCA Day Camp illness and barfed in the car on the way home. I think he was carsick from a bus ride? Or just hot? He IS a delicate little flower, the sort of native PNWer who says, "Mommy, it's too sunny," on a 65 degree day in April.) I appreciated the Dull since yesterday was the opposite. I would have written the longest blog post ever published, but most of it goes against Blog Policy. Bummer! 

Things I CAN say: the naturopath appointment was awesome. I'm not sure if my new hippie treatment plan will actually WORK, but the appointment itself was hands down the best health care experience I've had since I've had to pay for it myself. I'll write more about it later, including all the parts that will make my pharmacist bff cringe. Heh. Also: acupuncture. I KNOW. 

Another thing I can say: I didn't get the job. But I did get two more emails from the principal late last night thinking up ways I can still get myself employed at her school. Basically I can be an office assistant SUB. Did you know they do that? I didn't! So that means I could work once in a blue moon, but gather the necessary experience to better qualify me to work the following year, which is a possibility because the school is growing. Honestly? This sounds better to me. I wasn't QUITE ready to leave Emma, even part time. Amongst other things I wasn't quite ready for. But the possibility still remains and I will be in the know and yes. So far this sounds good. 

I went on and on about this with Phillip and IRL friends last night, so I feel like I'm boring you and/or repeating myself. But when I heard I didn't get the job I wasn't disappointed - I mean, it's never fun to hear you were rejected, obvs. But I just kept thinking of all the things I wasn't going to get to do. Things with Emma, getting back in shape at the Y every morning (we'll see if this actually happens ANYWAY), starting to write again, house projects, saying yes to prayer conferences, getting back to pursuing the whole mom-friendly bakery idea. I was SO looking forward to a year where the schedule would be the same every day, a year where I might actually get BORED. A year where I would realize hey, I NEED to go back to work! Even though this was only part time, it was going to be a big wrench in family life and I just... I just wasn't SURE. I think if I'd been offered the job I would have taken it. But signing up to be a sub instead, just sticking a toe in the water instead of a whole foot, it feels like a grace year. It feels ridiculous too, like I'm a spoiled brat or a kept woman! If only other women were so lucky to have the choice, right? So I'm aware of that. Well aware. 

Another observation to cap off this post: this might possibly be the nicest summer I've ever had in Seattle. I think I can count on one hand the number of times it's rained in the last two months. It's been glorious - bright, sunny, HOT, beautiful, glittering water everywhere. Someone please help me remember these days come November. 


Take a gander.

Photo (4)

Photo (3)

Photo (1)

Photo (2)

Isn't it a beaut?!

I don't know what those cabinets are called. I've seen them in a million houses, but I have no idea what to google. And no one ever posts before pictures of THESE cabinets. So I've been feeling like the kitchen is sort of a lost cause, at least until we have the requisite bazillion dollars for a total gut job. Besides, it's totally functional and I don't hate using it, the way I hate the bathroom layout every time I go in there. It's been low-ish on my list of things to stress about. 

Until it occurred to me that I wouldn't HAVE to wait until I had a bazillion dollars to make some substantial changes. Namely, my evil enabling SIL found a bunch of pictures online of THESE cabinets with a Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations makeover. I'm just going to apologize now because I? Cannot find these pictures anywhere. I'll have to have her email me the links. But anyway, people PAINTED these cabinets. And they looked AWESOME. I mean, as awesome as painted laminate cabinets go, which turns out is pretty awesome. I was super impressed. SIL spent an entire afternoon investigating the possibilities and yes I did go out that very evening to purchase my own paint kit. 

This was our vision: 

  • dark gray cabinets ('Castle' on the box, although later I found out I can have that paint tinted any color I want. It doesn't have to be one of the colors on the box.)
  • ripping off the oak trim "backsplash" and replacing with a strip of sea glassy tile in blues and grays and translucents
  • some brushed nickel modern hardware
  • painting the oak trim around the tile counters the same aqua as the walls in the little room off the kitchen OR
  • staining the oak trim around the tile counters AND the butcher block bar height counters a deep espresso

My house is super white and light and I felt like I could pull off a darker kitchen. I think clean lines, dark colors, and Ikea-looking pulls would look "right" in this house. I got super excited, mainly because it felt like something I could DO. I'd still have the same beat up floor and the same tile and grout countertops, but everything else would feel so different. And I could DO it. It would take a while, it would be inconvenient, but I could DO it. 

Then, right before the kitchen designer dude (the consultation I got for free from Home Depot) was supposed to arrive, Phillip and I had a Discussion. 

Here's the thing. I am... impulsive when it comes to house stuff. And I don't have a lot of patience, I don't like to wait around, I'd rather spend an entire day doing something and getting it done rather than a few hours here and there during the week. I don't zero in on the professional way to do something or the "best" way, I tend to look and see what other people have done, what the options are, and go from there. Which isn't to say I just up and paint something. I spent a loooong time reading about painting furniture before I cracked open the primer for my craigslist cabinet. And I feel like I have some experience now. I now have opinions about what to use spray paint on, what tools to use for regular painting, etc. Painting is no longer intimidating to me AT ALL (see: the archives from when we bought our townhouse. HA.)

PHILLIP on the other hand... opposite of impulsive. In every way. Maybe I've mentioned that it took two years for him to suggest that maybe we start dating? Phillip's perspective was: we just finished the deck. We just shelled out a ton of money. What is this new thing my wife wants to do now? What sort of mess will I have to live in? Does she know what she's doing? What if it looks worse? Aren't you supposed to use a sprayer on cabinets? You can't paint LAMINATE! I'm tired of things not being done! I'm tired of things not getting put away. THIS IS STRESSING ME OUT. 

It was a hard conversation, mainly because as soon as someone implies that I am not going to do a good job I immediately get offended, hurt, indignant, and irrational. So then I was all, "What evidence does he have that I will screw this up? What else have I done around the house that sucks? Where else did I do a bad job?" and getting super upset because HEY I'VE MADE OUR HOUSE REALLY PRETTY. AHEM. 

But see, this is where the enneagram comes in really handy, people. I'm serious. I'm a Three and Threes feel loved/valued for what they accomplish. Someone expressing doubts about me and what I can do? TWIST THE KINFE A LITTLE MORE, WOULDJA? Phillip is a Nine with a One Wing. Nines want to be comfortable, not living in a DIY kitchen zone. They also hate making decisions and someone throwing questions at them at lightning speed? Like me? Demanding answers? Makes them IRATE. Can't they just go sit on the couch and eat some chips and NOT DEAL WITH THIS? Also, that One Wing - the Perfectionist - makes him liable to zero in on the screw ups, the places where the paint chips, the brush strokes are visible, the way his wife thinks she can just sand and stain a butcher block countertop where it IS... WHAT IS WRONG WITH HER? 

The "discussion" ended with me saying I was not going to paint the kitchen cabinets. It's just not worth it. I'll give Phillip a few months to roll it around in his head and me a few months to decide if that's really something I want to do. I think Phillip DOES trust me to do a good (and mostly right) job, but it's not fair for me to just up and decide that we're going to do this huge project. 

But then the designer came over. Sigh. I found him... pleasant with a touch of annoying. He wasn't a designer so much as a Home Depot sales guy who knows how to put cabinets together. Part of talking to him was great - he was there to sell us on refacing cabinets and he figured out a solution for our tiny wall oven, creating a new space for that, building new cabinet frames, getting rid of the ledge where the old microwave is currently sitting, all that. So helpful. He made it sound POSSIBLE, which is what I like to hear. He also described things in phases. We could do the cabinets and oven as Phase 1. We could get new appliances for Phase 2. For Phase 3 we'd get new countertops. Whenever we could afford to make those things happen. 

Then he said that just refacing the cabinets we have (and building a couple of new boxes for the wall oven situation) would be in the range of $16K to $20K. 


Maybe I've been watching too much HGTV, but I thought that would be the cost for entirely NEW cabinets. Maybe I'm totally in la la land, but $16K to $20K just for CABINETS doesn't seem worth it to me at all. I feel like I should get brand new insides for that! At least! After a few snide remarks about Ikea (whose cabinets I happen to like more than any other store's, so far) he left his card and a brochure and drove away. We ended up feeling like, "Well! That is good information to have!" 

And so I go back to the painting cabinet idea. One thing Phillip could handle if I wanted to do something NOW is testing the paint kit on our bathroom cabinets which are exactly the same. The kids' bathroom would be a great place to test out all our ideas, right? I still very much like the idea of painting them, but since that weekend I've seen a few other things and now I have a few other ideas. 

This concrete countertop idea, for example. I thought you had to pour concrete into forms to make this happen, but this link Elizabeth sent me is basically painting concrete onto your existing countertops. INTERESTING. Also CHEAP. Phillip and I have both talked about concrete countertops as an option, so when I sent him the link he was actually amenable! But I couldn't do dark gray cabinets and concrete counters. Now I'm wondering if I should try the dark gray in the bathrooms, see how that works, and decide about the kitchen. If it does work I'd also want to test out the concrete. If we were going to go with all of that for the kitchen (and honestly, just TRYING it sounds kinda fun to me) then I'd definitely want a lighter color for the cabinets. I'd get either a new kit or go the Centsational Girl laminate route, where you use oil based primer and then whatever color you choose. (No primer in the kit.) 

Also, Phillip, being an Almost Perfectionist, suggested we get a paint sprayer if we're going to do this. Did you know he considered getting me a paint sprayer for Christmas last year? This is hilarious to me. ME. A PAINT SPRAYER. (Would I even know how to use it?) 

So... this is all definitely on the table still, just farther down the table. Seriously, if it's going to cost 20 grand just to switch out cabinet doors, then painted laminate, a $15 concrete mix, and a $100 worth of backsplash tile sounds super great to me. Even if I have to do it myself. Even if I don't do it perfectly. It sounds FUN and it sounds like DIFFERENT. I like both of those things! 

I also want to say: MY KITCHEN IS JUST FINE. I need to say this to ME. My kitchen is fine. It's big. It's functional. Everything works. Everything fits. It's light. It's bright. Just because I'd tear down walls and redesign the whole thing if I COULD doesn't mean I am currently living in Kitchen Misery. That's ridiculous. White quartz countertops will not make me happier. (At least not for long.) Sleek modern cabinetry will not make me a better person. An oven that fits my biggest cookie sheet WOULD be an improvement, but we certainly manage to bake and eat heaps of cookies without it. Much like my pants size, how pretty my kitchen is should not determine how I feel about myself. 

All right. That caveat out of the way - I think it'd be SUPER FUN to start painting/tiling/concreting things. As soon as my marriage can handle it, we'll get started. WHEE!


Picture ID, baked goods, dresses.

You know what's the second best thing in the world? The first best being chocolate passionfruit cake, obvs. YMCA day camp. The big kids got signed up in a fit of OMG What Am I Going To Do With Them All Summer. I was a little nervous because it starts at 9 and ends at 4. I mean, I was THRILLED, but also, you know, Molly's never done anything except four hours of preschool. 

But it was awesome. My kids had a blast and I was in good spirits at dinnertime instead of nearing a psychotic breakdown. Win all around I think. I did have a hard time finding the camp location (it's in a park - a BIG park) and I showed up at 4pm without any picture ID for pickup purposes. I'd taken my license out to copy for Molly's school enrollment papers the day before, and my Costco card, the card that's gotten me out of picture ID predicaments in the past, was in another bag. OOPS. The bouncy blond college girl in the tiny shorts and the neon t-shirt got to call my husband and ask him to describe what his wife looked like. Guess how that went over.

I kind of feel like I wasted a day, though. I went grocery shopping and I returned a bunch of ill-advised online orders and I worked super hard on my Thursday crossword (Thursdays are HARD) but I didn't really ACCOMPLISH anything. This is my personal syndrome. Free time = MUST ACCOMPLISH A TASK. I'm not painting my kitchen (still not writing about that yet! the marital strife has still to settle!) so part of me is all What Do I Doooooooo?!?!

Tomorrow I have a consult with Lindsay Kennedy Photography, Lindsay Kennedy being the local photographer who thought the picture I posted of Phillip and me on the anniversary post was Tres Pathetic and offered to give us some REAL pictures. So that's exciting. I have my naturopath appointment on Wednesday. I'm sure you're all looking forward to THAT recap. Heh. And I promised my old boss some baked goods in return for the letter of recommendation he hammered out in a matter of hours. He's the editor of several magazines and I was the circulation manager, ie: database nerd, but I'm pretty sure he only kept me around because I baked cookies on a near-daily basis and brought them to work. Apparently no one else does this? And he's been work cookie-less for six years? So I've come up with a simple yet delicious assortment of treats:

  • lemon bars
  • chocolate chip cookies (the 5-sticks-of-butter cookies from my Chocolate Chocolate cookbook)
  • easy toffee bars (obvs)
  • sandwich cookies made from shortbread and leftover salted ganache from my birthday cake
  • strawberry cream cheese bread  (the FPC made this for our family beach weekend. It's basically cake. And amazing.)

    I think this will do. It will also ensure that I NEVER fit into my pants again. 

Let's not talk about pants. 

Oh, we do have to talk about DRESSES though. Next we're going to a 20th wedding anniversary party in Vancouver and a few days later I'm headed to a wedding in Montana on my own. Well, maybe with Emma. Probably. I think. So I need a DRESS. A dress that packs well! None of my nicer dresses fit me (WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT THAT). Also this is the first time I've seen the Vancouver relatives since I had kids and I want to look like Oh, I Guess If Phillip Was Going To Marry A White Girl He Did Okay With That One/She Doesn't Look Like TOO Much Of A Chubby Splotchy Mom. Right? So! Anybody have a comfortable wrinkle-resistant dress to recommend? Actually, I should probably get two. One proper, boring, nobody-notice-me dress for an athletic club in Stanley Park and a more fun one for a Montana wedding in a giant field. Like a halter maxi dress with giant wedges. Oooh, let's go shopping. Also: HOW DO I DRESS MY CHILDREN? 

A stream of consciousness post that makes even less sense than usual

Birthday Week is over. WOE. (Blogless Emily, you win the book! Send me an address!)

Also all my kitchen painting plans were postponed on account of someone feeling a little, "Didn't we JUST DO a big project? Can't we just LIVE HERE FOR A WHILE?" Etc. I still have a lot to say about my kitchen - including meeting with a kitchen designer from Home Depot - but that will have to wait because toNIGHT I was filling out Molly's school enrollment forms and this was the last page:


I'm not sure what to do with this. I sat and looked at it for a long time. I asked Phillip. (He snorted/laughed/ignored me.) I ended up not circling anything, even though I am a rule follower, because what would I circle? And now I am just wondering what the POINT is. Data - yes, but is something we "consider" actual data? Does it make her eligible for certain things? I am not at all above checking boxes and circling things to GET stuff. 

I don't know. I don't remember doing this for Jack, although I'm sure it was the same form. And I'm not UPSET about it or anything, I just feel like I need some more information. Or maybe it's just another one of those things we will encounter and be confused about. 

We went to see my visiting brother and SIL one last time today. They have three boys and a foster baby girl they hope to adopt. If SIL and I aren't talking about house renovations we are talking about foster parenting and shockingly, Phillip and I are both open to the idea. I think this is surprising to us both. I never thought I could be a foster parent because it sounds like nonstop emotional turmoil and I am already on medication for that. Phillip feels like our family is complete. But there's something about it. I'm not sure either of us could articulate it, although we keep trying, but something about it just seems Possible. I wouldn't say that we are anywhere close to pursuing it, or even wanting to pursue it, but it continues to feel Possible and that's... I don't know. 

And the picture of Raising Children grows ever more complicated. I think I would walk into the fostering process with the intent to be a temporary family, supporting reunification, while remaining open to adoption. Maybe not very open? But open. You hear about those people who've adopted sixteen kids from the foster system - how amazing is that? Am I that sort of amazing? I don't think so, but what a fully lived life, you know? What a right way to be on this planet. So all the possibilities are out there. More kids. Needy kids. Kids who don't look like us. Maybe this is the simplest of the complicated questions on the school enrollment forms I will fill out. 

I'm hoping to find out if I got a job this week. Talk about another Possibility. I haven't quite let myself think about how I'll take care of Emma - maybe that sounds irresponsible, but to me it's just not borrowing trouble. When I thought about foster parenting or having more children I didn't picture having a job. What does that mean? Maybe it means nothing. Maybe I will be going to the Y every morning and putting a baby down for a nap every afternoon like I planned. I don't know yet. 

I went to Ikea last week and bought desks for the big kids. I spent some time looking at beds and I am only interested in beds that maximize sleeping space. Bunk beds. Trundles. We don't have heaps of overnight guests, we don't have foster kids, we don't have people needing a place to stay. But there is something in me that requires making the most of the space I have. I am continually thinking about how many people I can house at one time. 

Sometimes people say they could never have a big house like ours because they couldn't clean it. I just tell them I don't clean it. But you guys I know I prayed for the biggest house we could afford in the city. I feel like there are supposed to be people in here. I feel like the space is not just for me to wander around in, stressing about paint colors. 

I don't know what all these paragraphs are amounting to. I don't know how I got here from a finicky question on a school enrollment form. It's entirely possible I'm just worn out and loopy and need to go to bed.

Last day. Sniff! Also: thirty-four. Also also: paint. Of course.

Oh Internet it's been such a GREAT! DAY! Even though I had to drive all over town fixing a YMCA camp paperwork mess up (MY fault) and then forgetting the paint that I expressly went to Home Depot to purchase AT Home Depot... More on that later. But my multitude of brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews just went home and I am full of what is the most amazing cake I've eaten in a loooong time and I just feel so lucky! Summer birthdays are pretty rad, what with the family in town and sunny days and long wine-soaked evenings. 

Today's winner: Miranda! Thanks for playing, Miranda! (Today's winner-picking method: "Phillip, pick a number between 1 and 29." "27.") I am so excited to see what you and Hayley do together and please be sure to send me samples. Also your address. 

Okay, first things first. The FPC found my birthday cake here. Holy moly. I'm told it's not the easiest or the cheapest cake around but MAN it can slay even the mightiest of chocoholics (me). Rich, dense, salty, sweet, dark, omg. Recommend. 

As for the PAINT... so my Colorado brother and SIL have been in town about a week now and I'm pretty sure SIL and I have talked of nothing but fixing up houses. Specifically ours. We must be the most boring people on the planet, but we think we are FASCINATING. Anyway, a few days ago she was here and we spent a million imaginary dollars renovating my entire house. Then today she shows up all, "MAGGIE. There is a picture on the internet of a kitchen like yours with PAINTED CABINETS." And I was all, "SNARFOMG!" And she was all, "I KNOW!" 

Turns out you can use the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation kit to paint even my godawful white/oak laminate cabinets. At least the After pictures on the internet look pretty darn amazing. What SIL and I figured is that even if it doesn't turn out amazing, it will still be better than the 1980s white/oak laminate, right? Because I am the most impatient person on the planet and because she is an enabler, I decided to go to Home Depot right that minute to pick up my very own Cabinet Transformations kit. WHILE I WAS THERE: some kid in a Home Depot polo shirt got me to sign up for a free interior design promotion. The designer is coming on Saturday. I have absolutely no idea what that will be like. I shall report back. Then afterwards I found the paint, asked the paint dude to tint it 'Castle' which is a dark gray, and I wandered around looking for tile. After ten minutes or so (and finding tile, dudes, I cannot help myself) I saw my box sitting on the paint desk and I picked it up and bought it and left. And then I got home and realized I had everything in my box except the paint. GAH! Dummy. 

Phillip is not sure about this whole thing. Especially because I want to paint all the wood trim. He thinks we should stain it. I want to paint it (guess) aqua. HA HA HA. I mean, it's MY HOUSE, right? We're not moving for a LONG TIME. If EVER. I'll take pictures to show you, but my main floor has a lot of natural light and is decorated with light colors. I think that's me fighting the October - June gloom. I have the aforementioned white/oak laminate cabinets, a beat up wood floor, pale gray tile countertops, white walls, white windows, and oak trim where there should be a nice tile backsplash. And my kitchen is mostly a long, wide galley with next to no upper cabinets. I actually don't mind the layout at all. It'd be nice if one day we could open it up a bit more, but as that's a gazillion dollars and the paint kit is $75...

So I'm thinking paint all the cabinets gray, add some brushed nickel hardware, MAYBE paint the trim aqua, and add a very thin backsplash of seaglass-looking tile. Phillip, however, thinks we should stain the trim. I would only stain it a dark brown and never thought a dark brown would go in my house. But... now I'm thinking about it. Especially because I have these bar height counters above my regular countertops that are plain butcher block and I could stain those to match... JUST THINKING OUT LOUD HERE, PEOPLE. 

But anyway. In a matter of days I've gone from going broke on my deck to obsessing over Emma's room to buying children's desks at Ikea and rearranging the playroom to remodeling my kitchen myself. AM A NUTJOB. Poor Phillip. 

Oh wait, did you say Birthday Giveaway Week is not quite over? You're right! I have one more day to send you something fun. Well, just one of you, which is a huge bummer. Maybe next year I'll be independently wealthy and I can go all Oprah's Favorite Things on you. A girl can dream!

Okay, for the last giveaway I'm sharing my favorite... war book! JUST KIDDING. It's a PARTY PLANNING book called Party Like A Rock Star. I love parties and I WISH I could throw a major super-glam bash with a actual budget! The Blathering is as close as I get. I LOVE the organization, the planning, the brainstorming, the MAKING. This is not a "how to throw a cute kid party" book or a "bridal shower ideas" book, this is a book for parties I basically could never throw in my lifetime. But I don't care. I love the pictures, I love the ideas, I love the inspiration. Are you a similar sort? This is a fun book to page through. And would you like to come to my Christmas party? 

Thanks for making this week super fun. I was just telling everyone tonight how much I love my internet friends. xoxo

Chocolate is my favorite and chocolate frosting is my favorite favorite

Turns out Birthday Giveaway posts are the bright spot in my otherwise not so hot week. Like right now the kids are eating dinner and watching a show and I would like to crawl into bed and hide until Phillip comes home and I get to yell, "Grill me some dinner!", but this is Prime Blogging Time and I have to announce the winner! 

Congratulations, Lindsay Collins! Send me your mailing address so I can sign you up for a subscription to HGTV magazine. By the way, I feel I should confess this giveaway was totally not random. Lindsay's was just the only comment to include the words "tornado" and "rebuilt from the studs" and AAAUUUGGGHHH.

Things that totally work on me: chocolate, flattery, pitiful stories, batting your eyelashes. 

So it's fun to give presents (as long as the only work I have to do is click "buy" on Amazon) and it's ALSO fun to check out your websites. Something else I should confess: I am very very VERY bad at checking blogs. I still don't have a replacement for Google Reader. But I've been trying to click through to see what you all are saying and I am totally going to post some links. Like Cookie District. This blog is full of pictures of cookies. PRETTY cookies. Need I say more? I will: there are some fleur de lis cookies that I totally wish we'd had for the Blathering last year!

Speaking of cookies, today's giveaway, which is really Thursday's giveaway, which is The Actual Birthday Day Giveaway, is my favorite baking cookbook, Chocolate Chocolate by Lisa Yockelson. Fittingly, a friend gave it to me for my birthday several years ago. I'm not much of an adventurous baker - I tend to make the same things over and over, but I think I've tried more recipes from this book than any other and they are ALL hits. My favorite is the soft chocolate chunk cookie I've posted on this website (complete with a comment from the divine Ms. Yockelson herself!) - an obscene amount of butter, bittersweet chocolate chunks, brown sugar, MMMM. I honestly don't believe there's a better chocolate chip cookie. I'm also rather fond of the coca cola cake (the frosting melts into the cake, omg), the chocolate almond pound cake, and the large assortment of frosting recipes. I like to have a little cake with my frosting, you know. And always chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.

Anyway, this is a big, fat, hardcore book with lots of baking advice for Real Bakers, but I'm proof it's not too difficult for a Lazy Baker like myself. 

Maybe I will call Phillip and tell him to pick up some cake on his way home. 

(Tomorrow I will tell you about my birthday cake. Which the FPC started making today. Which I am VERY EXCITED ABOUT.) (Favorite thing about birthdays: cake.)

Thanks for making my days, people. xoxo


Someone needs to be put down for a nap

I remember when Emma was born and how the big kids just made me crazy. They were so loud. They were always touching me. It was always, like, extra huge sensory overload 24/7 and I wanted to lock myself in the closet with the baby and just rock back and forth in the pitch dark quiet. 

Today feels like one of those days, except this time I want to escape all three of them. 

It's not them, it's me. It's not a great day. I'm stressed about things that have nothing to do with my kids. The sun disappeared. I have a stack of recycling as tall as Jack in my hallway. That effing tree won't stop dumping pine needles all over my nice new deck. 

So let's do something fun. I have picked a winner! This time I closed my eyes and pointed at all the comments in my email and the winner is Blogless Brooke! I will email you for your address, Blogless Brooke. Thanks for playing! 

Let's do something else fun! What shall I give away today?! Will you be amused to learn that I am coming up with something mere minutes before I write my blog post? Or, in this case, WHILE I am writing my blog post? I'm saving a certain favorite thing for Actual Birthday Day so today I'm picking... Hmm... Favorite Thing: HGTV and obsessing over my house. How about a subscription to HGTV magazine?  Totally works. 


This is actually something I want someone to buy for ME. HINT HINT, PHILLIP. 

Leave a comment! Win a magazine sure to give you the Spirit Of Lack about your surroundings! (I PROMISE I WILL BE IN A BETTER MOOD TOMORROW!)


A WINNER! and Giveaway #2

Giving away ONE Enneagram book was VERY VERY HARD, Internet. Turns out I would like to send a book to ALL of you and have introspective email conversations with ALL of you. I sulked about this so much today that by the time I finally decided I needed to just pick someone already I'd created this, like, Enneagram CAMP in my head, where we could all go and DISCUSS OUR TYPES. Like a Blathering for NERRRRRDS! Wouldn't that be AWESOME? 

Okay, so I looked at the number of comments (34) and picked a number in the middle (14) and that was Tara from Our Little Geekling. HI TARA! SEND ME YOUR MAILING ADDRESS!

(This is not going to be my Method, just so you know. Tomorrow's comment-picking method may be "person who uses the letter z" or "this is the one Emma pointed at". BUT IT WILL BE RANDOM I PROMISE.)

Now I'm going to make you read about my day before I tell you the next super exciting giveaway item. 

My day was lovely. My brother and sister-in-law visited and their kids and it was a glorious 70 something degrees and THIS is why people put up with the rain. Some days are just absolutely perfect. My mom gave me a bunch of super colorful Deck Accessories, like lanterns and wire baskets and drink buckets, and I LOVE being out there, glass of white wine in hand. Then my SIL and I spent a gazillion imaginary dollars redesigning the main floor of my house (we knocked out the dining room wall and expanded the dining and kitchen areas onto part of the deck! cheap!) and talking about how they maybe might move to Seattle if my brother can find a job. (LET'S GET ON THAT, UNIVERSE!) This didn't really help with the General Dissatisfied Milaise, but it WAS sort of fun. 

The lame part of today [REDACTED!]

BLAH. Let's discuss a different Favorite Thing, namely Favorite Colors. Can you say: AQUA? 

I bought this color (Turquoise & Caicos) for my sister's rainbow-colored wedding last summer. LOVE. IT. There's a new Essie aqua out, but I think I like this one best. Leave a comment to get it in the mail! 

And Birthday Giveaway Week begins!

While we were at the beach this weekend Phillip arranged to have our kitchen and bathrooms professionally cleaned - a most fabulous and thoughtful birthday present - and this fact alone should have me floating through the house, charmed and cheered. Instead I'm sitting here barking at my frustrating children, getting annoyed about the messes all over the rest of the house, and basically feeling dissatisfied about absolutely everything. I need to knock down this wall and renovate this kitchen RIGHT NOW. I need to grab a trash bag and throw practically everything we own away and/or haul it to Goodwill RIGHT NOW. I need to go on a juice fast, I need to cut my hair, I need a new dining room table, I have to go to Target, I need to buy new sheets, I need to fix my bedroom RIGHTNOWRIGHTNOWRIGHTNOW.

Anyone have a name for this malaise? Return-To-Real-Life-Itis? I'm Grouchy McGroucherpants tonight, hoping I get that school job so I can hire a housecleaner on a regular basis. Of course, between whatever childcare we rig up for Emma and a regular housecleaner I'd have, like, five dollars left over, but... still worth it? Feels worth it right now. 

But you know what? It's Birthday Week! It's the week I shop on Amazon for YOU! You = suspicious. And rightly so, Internet, because to kick off Birthday Giveaway Week is a copy of Helen Palmer's The Enneagram!!!!!!!! OH YES! My plot to convert the masses to new agey personality test weirdness is just beginning. 

There are some conditions. You have to tell me what you decide your type is. Then you have to participate it long winded email conversations about it. All right fine, you don't have to. But if you WANT to that is TOTALLY THE KIND OF THING I LIKE TO DO. 

(Quick reminder: my dad looked at my book and said, "Why do you read this garbage." So. Not for everyone!) 

The good news is, the giveaways can only get better from here, right? RIGHT!